Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On Scottish Independence

In 2014, Scotland was allowed to conduct a referendum to become an independent country. Over 55% of eligible voters chose to vote to stay in the United Kingdom. But the issue never went away, and the current leader of the devolved Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced another referendum, which will take place in October 2023. In this short guest post, Gavin considers the issues around the defence of both an independent Scotland, and the rest of Great Britain, should the vote be different next time.

Scottish independence and defence. Gavin Marriott

Due to an event during my time in the London Ambulance Service in the early 80s, I have a close association with a small part of the UK armed forces.
In 2014, I was their guest for the ceremonies for the beginning of the WW1 centenary in London and Belgium, and I did a trip around Scotland. I have Scottish blood in me. The bagpipes do something positive to my cardiovascular system.

But all this coincided with the Scottish independence vote, and I had to be careful raising discussion with arch rivals literally sitting either side of me. And there were times you could have cut the air above me with a blunt knife.

With Brexit and other events, the independence vote is on the agenda again. I will not discuss the pros nor cons or even contemplate a view. But in this discussion, I want to focus on an aspect ignored in the consequence of independence, and that is Defence.

It is more than a case of giving the Scots Guards to Scotland. Those guardsmen are mainly English or from the commonwealth anyway. Firstly, an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU & NATO. To not join either would be unthinkable. But joining would take years with criteria and hoops to meet – like having a 2% of GDP spend on its military.

The Scottish Parliament has made it abundantly clear, the Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde would leave Scotland. These are Britain’s major defence deterrent. There is nowhere else in Britain with the deep water to house theses subs and to shift them to America would have to be considered at a cost of multi billions and Scottish job losses.
The same with RAF Lossiemouth which has Britain’s entire maritime patrol and early warning aircraft stationed there. There are also British radar installations which would need moving.

So why are the subs, aircraft and radar based in Scotland? Because Scotland is closest to the threat of Russia (North Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic) and would be the first attacked. It is sparsely populated and would be easy pickings. Scotland is 32% of the UK landmass and has a coastline of over 10,000 miles. So its in Scotland’s favour for Britain to have these facilities in Scotland. It allows any threat to be spotted far away and intercepted in time (and Russia often tests this).
Scotland not having these assets would affect its NATO membership and Scotland not being part of NATO would leave it open to a Russian takeover. That would threaten England. So there could be more tension than football rivalry.

With major UK bases in Scotland and Scotland building warships, they gain a lot financially from UK’s combined military. Also what about the Scots that make up 15% of the UK military yet only have 8% of the UK population. What would there be for them in Scotland?

Look at a country with a similar population, New Zealand. We have no fighter aircraft, only 2 warships and only 2 regular infantry battalions. But we are in close cooperation with Australia and we do have 4 of the latest maritime patrol planes. Scotland would need more than 4 (The RAF have 9). Belgium and Netherlands now have a joint military squadron and the British and French aircraft carriers are compatible. Could Scotland be independent with an English or American military alliance. It would have to keep the subs for that.

So could Scotland go it alone??

Different Sunday Musings In June

I have written about the small heatwave previously, and also outlined the progress on renewing my driving licence. So this week, my musings are taking on a different form.
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Starting on the 21st, we have a series of rail strikes commencing. The unions representing the train drivers have come under great criticism for balloting for this strike, which over 80% of those drivers who voted are in favour of. The attacks on them are based on what they currently earn. Including overtime, train drivers can earn between £40,000 and £55,000 a year in the UK. Different operating companies pay different rates, and also have different contracts. Depending on the shifts worked, and the duration of those shifts, it is true that train drivers can earn as much as qualified nurses and teachers.

But I see nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn’t they?

They do a highly-trained and sometimes difficult job, and are often responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers, driving trains at high speed between British cities. One of the politicians who has been most critical of the strike action earns £88,000 a year by being a member of parliament. In the last calendar year, he also claimed £190,000 in ‘expenses’, enjoys long holiday breaks when parliament closes, and is able to do a second job by being on the board of a private company that pays him around £100,000 a year to turn up at meetings ‘occasionally’. Yet he thinks the person driving the train taking him to his two jobs is earning too much money. Disgraceful.

All workers should read this quote.

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With the cost of living crisis seriously affecting well over half the households in this country, we are hearing about qualified nurses having to get free food from Food Banks to survive the rising costs of power, petrol, and groceries in supermarkets. Some old people are afraid to turn on their heating when they are cold, and many children are having to eat cheap food that is nutritionally poor. Yet the government politicians see nothing wrong in that, simply blaming it on the Pandemic, or the war in Ukraine. As the rich get richer than ever before in history, we are told to wear extra clothes when we are cold, and that nothing is the fault of government policy.

I am not a religious man, but this quote from someone who is sums up the blatant hypocrisy of those uncaring politicians on their huge salaries and expenses.

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I hope you a have a peaceful and happy Sunday. And I send my best wishes to all the fathers out there who might be enjoying a celebration of Father’s Day. But let’s not forget those fathers who will be spending the day alone or unloved.

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Worrying Film Censorship

As everyone who reads my blog knows, I am not a religious person. However, I believe that everyone should have a right to their own beliefs, unless those beliefs interfere with others, or cause harm to people. I know that many religious people get comfort from their faith, whatever that faith might be.

As a result, I rarely comment on religion on this blog.

But today, I feel the need to talk about something that does concern me.

On release in cinemas around the UK is a British film, ‘Lady In Heaven’. This is an historical epic written by a Shia Muslim cleric, Sheikh Yasser al-Habib of Kuwait, and it concerns the story of Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

As a film fan, I confess that it is not a film that interests me that much. However, I suspected that in modern multi-cultural Britain, it could find a large audience. It was actually taken up for distribution by Cineworld, one of the largest multiplex cinema chains in this country.

So far, just a normal film release.

Then a cinema in Yorkshire was surrounded by an angry mob of local British Muslims who objected to the film being shown. The staff were threatened, and the producer of the film received death threats. Despite the presence of police officers, no arrests were made, and the banner-waving and chanting mob was allowed to continue to make their protest outside the location.

That’s the right of free speech in a democracy.

Then Cineworld decided not to show the film, in any of its cinemas in Yorkshire. Perhaps not in any of their cinemas nationwide. They issued a press release saying that they were concerned for the safety of the staff, disruption of performances, and damage to buildings. Varous people involved in making the film continue to receive death threats, and still no arrests have been made.

One of the main reasons why people who were not born in Britain were eager to come and live here is because we have a tradition of religious tolerance. But then some of them seek to undermind our tolerant society by telling others what they can and cannot watch at the cinema. And they are allowed to do this, by our own laws.

To my mind, such behaviour will only increase racial and relgious hatred. It will give ammunition to the Far Right and Neo-Nazi groups in the UK, and perhaps generate ‘revenge’ attacks against Muslim communities in this country.

Such protests causing a film not to be shown to those who want to pay to see it are not acceptable to me. They are the beginnings of a slippery slope of censorship based on political correctness and mob rule that has no place in a modern society.

With that in mind, here is the trailer for the film that they do not want you to see.

Feel free to issue me with a death threat.

Platinum Jubilee: So What?

Anyone who reads this blog must already be aware that I am not a Royalist. I am the opposite of a royalist, not in favour of a monarchy, whoever represents that institution.

Now we are faced with a seemingly endless ‘celebration’ of Elizabeth II being queen for 70 years. Commercialism run riot. Souvenir coins, Queen face masks, special edition magazines, crockery, mugs, cakes, T-shirts, flags, even special packets of biscuits and sweets. The sycophantic newspapers and TV channels are getting set for a season of ‘Jubilee Tributes’ and broadcasts, and millions of ordinary people are staging Jubilee parties in streets, schools, parks, and other venues.

Elizabeth Windsor is one of the richest people in Europe. Her ‘personal wealth’ (that inherited wealth stolen by her ancestors over the centuries from other people and the colonies of the former Empire) is estimated to be around £350,000,000. As well as that, the taxpayers contribute millions to her upkeep, and that of some of her extended family. Many members of that family live in reasonably luxurious rent-free ‘Grace and Favour’ apartments or palaces, also at public expense.

2022 may be her 70th year as monarch, but it also happens to be the year when the cost of living in Britain has never been higher. The year when food prices, gas prices, petrol prices, and electricity prices have become unaffordable for many hard-working people on low wages. When there are more Food Banks in most British towns than actual banks, and many families will not be heating their homes properly this winter because they simply cannot afford to do so.

It is also the year when a discredited, lying, and corrupt Prime Minister refused to resign. When his lies were discovered, he changed the Ministerial Code of Parliament so he would no longer be subject to it. A dictator in all but name, using Royalist ballyhoo to cover up his own shameful political record.

The estimated cost of all this wonderful Platinum Jubliee celebration to the nation? £1,3000,000,000. That is ONE POINT THREE BILLION POUNDS.

I can think of far better ways to spend that, in a time of crisis.

You will find me celebrating when the monarchy is abolished, and not before.

Angry

I have to -sort of, but not really- apologise in advance for what follows, because I am angry. Very angry.

And if you have ever voted Conservative in the UK, best look away now.

I worked hard for all of my life, most of that in public service in stressful and sometimes dangerous jobs. I was trying to do some good for society, and certainly didn’t do those jobs for the money, which was below average for London. But I didn’t mind, because I wanted to do something good, not make profits for huge corporations.

I paid into two workplace pensions, and paid my National Insurance to receive my State Pension at the age of 65. When I retired at 60 and moved to Norfolk, I expected to live a reasonable life. Not affluent, far from that, but hopefully free from worry. I certainly never expected to end up in 2022 to find this country run by a gang of ‘Entitled’ pigs who cared nothing whatsoever for the people of Britain.

I really didn’t.

But that’s where we are. A gang of rich buffoons who have mega-rich friends, and a huge parliamentary majority. A Prime Minister who is an embarrassment to this country, surrounded by politicians and old friends who have got rich, and then richer, on the hard work of ordinary people. Members of Parliament on salaries of £84,000 a year, plus expenses of up to £200,000, telling ordinary people to ‘work harder’, or ‘do two jobs’ as they laugh at us in the subsidised bar of the House of Commons. A country saturated with ridiculous echoes of a long-gone empire, and fawning over a Royal Family that includes some of the richest people in the world, as well as hangers-on and paedophiles.

Fuel increases have been blamed on the war in Ukraine. That is a lie. The UK imports very little oil from Ukraine or Russia, and Shell and BP have made never before seen profits since the Russian invasion. WHY? Because they can, because the government lets them. Because they have friends who are shareholders in those companies.

Now the price cap on electricity and gas is set to rise to record levels. The members of parliament don’t care, because their energy bills are claimed on those ‘expenses’. But most people are set to see a 120% increase in their fuel bills in one year. More profits for the utility companies, engineered by their friends in government. They seek to distract us with ‘Platinum Jubilee’ celebrations, and an extra bank holiday. Yes, let’s all celebrate the Queen, who is one of the richest women on Earth, and doesn’t even need the taxpayer’s money that is pumped into her and her family so she can pay a woman £12,000,000 to drop a case against her sexual abuser son.

Meanwhile, hard-working people are becoming overwhelmed by utilty increases that may put their everyday lives in complete jeopardy. Someone as well-prepared for retirement as me (at least I thought so) has to think twice about using a car, as it costs me £105 to fill it up with diesel. And I have to shop ‘carefully’, for the first time in my life, because food price increases are blamed on higher transport costs, and that war in Ukraine.

If there had been no war in Ukraine, I wonder what they would have blamed it on? They would have found something, I’m sure.

So here I am at 70, after a relatively hard life. Suddenly worrying about everything, for the first time ever. Thanks to the Tory scum that run this country, and laugh about those foolish enough to vote for them. Like sheep volunteering to be the first one in the slaughterhouse.

Why did you vote for them? I would love to know. Working class people all across Britain, especially in the North, and the Home Counties, voted for them. Middle-class people voted for them, perhaps out of habit. Upper class people voted for them for obvious reasons, and so they could become multi-millionaires.

Did you really think they cared about you? Did you really think they believe you are the same as them? If so, you are not only ignorant, not only politically ignorant, but deluded and cretinous in every way imaginable.

You betrayed me, and every person who genuinely worked hard for this country.

This is no longer my country, it is a disgusting sham. Because of you.

I am not just angry, I hate you all. I will hate you with a spiteful vengeance until my dying day. Which should not be too far in the future.

If anyone doesn’t like this post, please feel free to unfollow me. I am probably better off without you.

Two Levels Of The Ukraine War

An alternative American view of the war in Ukraine. Always worth reading a different opinion from someone who knows his history.

In Saner Thought

Like all war there is more to them than the one sided manure that the media spreads……Ukraine is no different….there at least two levels to this conflict.

If you get your opinion from the MSM then you know that Russia invaded Ukraine….Ukraine is heroically fighting back….and refugees are fleeing and suffering…..and that is about it.  In other words Ukraine–good….Russia–bad.

Back in 2019 I tried to explain what was happening in Ukraine….

https://lobotero.com/2019/11/15/ukraine-for-dummies/

But there is more going on than the small amount of information that corporate news is willing to share…..

It has become increasingly clear to the world that there is not one, but two, actually three, distinct levels of conflict embedded in what the world’s media and political leadership deceptively insist of calling the ‘Ukraine War.’ The first level was clearly initiated on February 24, 2022 when Russia launched an aggressive war against Ukraine imperiling its sovereign rights…

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Passports And Driving Licences: Follow The Money

Following the recent debacle over renewal of driving licences that I have written about extensively on this blog, Britain now faces a new ‘delay scandal’.

Tens of thousands of people are unable to travel abroad, and have had to forfeit holidays they had booked. This is because the Passport Office has ‘untold delays’ in issuing new and renewed passports.

The reasons given are the same as with the Driving Licences.

They ‘didn’t expect’ so many people to want to go on holiday once all the restrictions were lifted.
They ‘didn’t expect’ so many people to want to renew expired passports in 2022.
So many staff were working from home because of Covid-19, and they didn’t have ‘full access’ to the systems required.
Postal applications mounted up after Post Office delays saw them being delivered in bulk.

Strange how two huge government organisations like the DVLA and The Passport Office had all these issues during the pandemic, don’t you think?

Or maybe it is not so strange.

Yesterday, government ministers announced that the Passport Office is going to be privatised, to make it ‘more efficient’. Something similar is also being mentioned regarding the DVLA, to make the issuing of driving licences run more smoothly.

Let’s see how that works.

*Create a bureaucratic nightmare. Send home staff during the pandemic, making sure they have no access to the system that allows them to do their jobs.

*Once the scandal erupts, and public outrage is reported in the media, you can ‘justify’ selling off the organistations concerned.

Who would buy them? Well existing ‘logistics’ companies, owned by friends or relatives of government ministers of course. The contracts will be huge, lucrative, and long-lasting. That will insure the move is not overturned if a different government comes to power in 2024.

Will the passports and driving licences arrive faster when that happens? Probably not. There will of course be a ‘transition’ to the new owners, one that will likely see tens of thousands of applications get lost in the system forever. Existing staff will be disposed of, and new staff on lower salaries and insecure contracts will be employed, using the ‘call-centre model’.

You can be sure of something else too. Passports and Driving Licences will cost a great deal more than they do now.

If you ever want to know the answer to anything going on in this country, follow the money.

The Wider Cost Of A War

Companies supplying fuel are jumping on the news of war in Ukraine and the current oil price increase to justify eye-watering price increases passed on to consumers. Despite BP profits in excess of £80 BILLION pounds last year, petrol at the pumps is forecast to hit £8.50 a gallon soon. ($11.20)

Although British Gas profits and share prices have never been higher, they are imposing increases in excess of 50% immediately, with the prospect of another 20% to follow at the end of April. Electricity companies have followed suit, with some predicting rises of 100% on current monthly payments.

We use heating oil in Beetley to run our central heating and hot water system. In December, 500 litres cost around £310. Today’s quote is £621, rising daily.

Salaries and pensions are not increasing much at all. In most cases, there are no increases whatsoever.

The Futures Market is making people obscenely rich overnight, as they rush to cash in on what everyone accepts is a real crisis in Ukraine. But are we just being bamboozled by the huge corporations and multinationals? I for one think we are. Both Britain and the USA are significant producers of oil. Both countries invested heavily in oil production, and both have claimed in the past to be self-sufficient in oil. Some time ago, Britain claimed to have invested so much in Green alternative energy, that it now supplied 43% of our requirements.

And that figure was published in 2014.

So how is it that the tragic war in Ukraine in 2022 can be used to justify such a hike in costs to ordinary people?

Profit and greed, pure and simple. In parliament today, Boris Johnson was laughing when asked about the increases.

Laughing at ordinary people wondering how they will heat their homes.

(It is still worth remembering that even when we are struggling to pay our bills, stay warm, and put fuel in our cars so we can drive to work or to the supermarket, we are better off than a refugee family from Ukraine living in a UNHCR tent in a foreign country. )

The Shame Of Britain

I am reblogging this from my second blog, as it really needs to be seen by a wider audience.

REDFLAGFLYING

News today of an incident at Calais that rightfully shames the current despicable government running this country.

150 Ukrainian refugees escaped from their war-torn country. They spent days heading West, crossing through Poland and Germany into France. Their aim was to seek refuge with members of their families who were already legally resident in Britain.

But the UK Border Force post at Calais refused them entry. They were told to travel to Paris, 300 miles away, and apply for a temporary visa at the British Embassy there.

Heartless, bureaucratic, shameful in the extreme.

Poland has welcomed over 500,000 refugees.
Hungary has welcomed over 140,000 refugees.
Moldova has welcomed 98,000 refugees.
Slovakia has welcomed 73,000 refugees.
Romania has welcomed 52,000 refugees.

Even Russia has allowed in 48,000 refugees to flee the war it started.

And noble Great Britain, that renowned Monarchy and self-professed seat of Democracy will not allow in 150…

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